Robert and I ride together for a while longer before parting ways. He just flew in from Alaska where he has been working at Denali National Park. I ply him with fresh brewed coffee and instant mashed potatoes and ask questions about biking in Alaska.
The green tunnel of trees is replaced by flat grasslands from horizon to horizon. I suddenly have more solar energy than I can use in a day.
The winds have been fierce for the last 24 hours. Last night, my bike stand snapped under a strong gust of wind. The wind continues to plague me today. I have to pull off the road and lock out the trailer tilt mechanism to keep it from being blown sideways into traffic by wind gusts. One section of road is almost unrideable due to crosswinds.
I almost miss the green tunnel. Almost. Riding for extended stretches at 28 mph (45 km/h) is a welcome change.
“California” by Phantom Planet is playing on the radio in the hardware store. “California, Califooornia, Califoooooornia. Here we come!” I point it out to the cute cashier and get a genuine laugh. “California” is a dirty word in Montana.
The joke is that Californians suck and that all 40 million of us are moving to Montana and generally ruining things by bringing in new money and new ideas. That most Montanans are recent descendants of immigrants is conveniently forgotten.
I have been told several times not to tell people I’m from California. I ignore the advice. It’s too much fun watching their faces scrunch up when they hear the answer. If you don’t want to hear where I’m from, then don’t ask the question.
In fact, I’m only most recently “from California.” I could also say Connecticut or Czechoslovakia. Or even Colorado or Canada if we’re counting all the places where I’ve spent time. All C words. Weird.
When I open up my merch store, the second item I sell will be a trucker hat with the words “NOT shopping for real estate.”
The RV park in Cut Bank, Montana has some cool hoodoo rock formations. I feel like I’m in a scale model of Cappadocia, Turkey. I sleep under the stars and wonder where I’ll be sleeping tomorrow night.